Outside Review Says July Shooting Was Justified, Police Say

An outside review of a police-involved shooting in July has determined that the officer’s actions were justified, the Montgomery County police said Wednesday.

In the incident, Officer Edward Cochran shot Juan Carlos Natera-Perez.

Update: Man Dies from Injuries in Fairland Shooting

Under an agreement between the two counties, the Howard County State’s Attorney investigates officer-involved shootings in Montgomery County, and vice versa.

The shooting took place Monday, July 23, after three calls were made to 911. In the first, the call taker heard a woman screaming and a male voice state, “I will (expletive) kill you,” and the line was then disconnected. Two other calls were made to 911 – one call from the adult male victim and another call from a neighbor.

Silver Spring police district officers responded to the scene, a townhouse in the 2800 block of Mozart Drive in Fairland.

This video has the audio of the woman’s call to 911.

As the first officer arrived at the Mozart Drive home, he observed Perez standing in the townhome doorway, with blood on his clothing and holding a knife.  The officer called for Perez to leave the home. Perez stepped back into the home and shut the front door.

Here is the body camera footage from the first officer:

A woman, later identified as a resident of the home and Perez’ ex-girlfriend, was standing outside in front of the house.  She immediately advised the officer that her 3-year-old son was still in the home.  Officers also learned from the woman that Perez was the father of the child in the home. The woman further stated that before police arrival, Perez had entered the home unannounced and without permission (Perez did not live in the home) and had confronted her and her boyfriend. Perez threw a bottle at the boyfriend as he fled. As the woman called 911 on her cell phone, Perez grabbed her phone and pushed her to the ground.

Officers tried to contact Perez, but these efforts were unsuccessful. Officers of the Montgomery County Police – Emergency Response Team (ERT) were summoned at about 8 p.m. When ERT members arrived, negotiators contacted Perez via a loud speaker in English and in Spanish, instructing him to exit the home or release the child. Perez refused to leave the home and refused to release the child.  These negotiations continued for more than an hour.

During this time, officers saw Perez using furniture to barricade doors and windows inside the home. Officers also saw Perez writing on the windows with his fingers using what appeared to be blood.

A domestic incident occurred in this townhouse development. | Google Maps

At about 10:15 p.m., officers saw Perez light something on fire and throw it out a second-floor bedroom window onto the ground below. Several minutes later, the child was heard screaming. Perez continued to light fires. Smoke was seen coming from the bedroom and the townhome’s smoke alarms began to sound.

At that time, the Montgomery County Police – Special Operations Division commander, Capt. Ed Daniel, made the following determinations and decisions:

  • The 3-year-old child’s life was in immediate danger because of Perez’s continuing behavior and actions to include setting fires in the townhome.
  • ERT officers would enter the townhome to rescue the child.
  • ERT officers could use lethal force before or during the entry of the home to stop him from endangering the life of the child.

Before making entry into the home, Cochran saw Perez in a master bedroom window and shot him. Officers entered the home and were faced with heavy smoke. They reached the second floor of the house where they found the child unharmed on the bed in the master bedroom.

Officers found a knife with what appeared to be blood on it on the bed. ERT officers took the child from the home and gave him to his mother.  Officers and Fire & Rescue personnel administered life-saving efforts on Perez at the home and he was taken to a local hospital in grave condition. He died from his injuries July 25.

A search of the home revealed charred clothing, flammable liquid and three lighters in the upper level.

Further investigation by detectives, to include a review of court documents, revealed a history of prior domestic violence between Perez and the woman. According to the woman, this violence occurred as recently as three weeks before the July 23 incident when Perez assaulted her and their son.

Here is the letter from the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office (click to enlarge):

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